There’s good news in the case of Steve Li, the 20-year-old San Francisco college student who was facing imminent deportation. Federal immigration officials have decided to delay Li’s deportation. It’s unclear why the decision was made, or how long the delay will last, but it’s certainly a temporary last minute victory for Li’s family and friends who had been urging Senator Barbara Boxer for support.
Sen Yen Ling, an attorney with the Asian Law Caucus, a civil rights organization that’s representing Li, told the Sacramento Bee that she received the news on Sunday. Meanwhile, Li remains detained at a federal detention center in Arizona.
Julianne Hing reported on Friday that Li was scheduled to be deported to Peru on Monday. He’s been held in detention since September 15, when immigration authorities raided his home and took him into custody. Li’s family left China to escape the country’s one-child only policy and headed to Peru, where he was born. Political upheaval pushed them on the move again in 2000 and they settled in San Francisco, where Li spent his formative years. While his family faces removal orders back to their native China, the younger Li faces deportation to Peru, a country in which he has no contacts.
Li’s case has become a rallying cry for supporters of the Dream Act, a federal bill that would allow undocumented youth with clean criminal records and two year commitments to either the military or college a path toward citizenship. While activists have been working to pass the bill for nearly a decade, the most recent efforts have been thwarted by increasingly hostile anti-immigrant rhetoric. Senators Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi have promised to re-introduce the bill during Congress’s lame duck session, but support for those efforts seem slim. On Monday, Florida Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart called on speaker Nancy Pelosi to schedule a vote on the Dream Act.
However, it does look like Li’s appeals to California Senators Barbara Boxer and Diane Feinstein worked.
“As an original co-sponsor of the DREAM Act, I believe it would be unjust to deport Mr. Li before we get a chance to vote on this bill, which would allow students like him to attain U.S. citizenship,” the Sacramento Bee said Feinstein wrote in a statement e-mailed to The Associated Press.